Faith and Stability vs Instability

And he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge, the fear of the Lord is Zion’s treasure. Isaiah 33:6 ESV

How we need his stability during these times. So many things we thought we could count on–has changed. We thought we had our budgets figured out–and then gas prices started to rise, food prices started to go up, and that which was “stable” changed. People plan flights months ago, planning to leave on a certain day and discover the airline cancelled thousands of flights! Cancelled flights bring uncertainty on so many levels–some inconvenient, some life altering. I’ve heard stories of people not making it to their loved ones deathbed; missing babies births; or job opportunities. As an industry, we expect it to be stable and consistent, but somehow it has changed. It seems to be the sign of the times. What’s next, we wonder?

These things reveal where we are standing. On the rock of his stability and trust, or on our own strength and ideas. I remember living through a gas crisis in the 70’s; we made it! I remember the price of coffee going up (my comfort!) and wondering how to make it stretch or substituting it for coffee and chicory. But we made it. How did we make it? By choosing to ask for his wisdom, insight and continuing to give, tithe, help others and not make it bigger than it was. I learned to trust and rejoice in the God who provided for each day, not worrying about the next. Those situations (as minor as they were in the scheme of things, were God’s school in teaching us actual trust lessons. He is the best teacher we could ever have.

I learned more lessons this week. I tested positive for Covid on Sunday, complete with symptoms. It started with the worse headache, chills, nausea and fatigue I have experienced. The nasal stuff (sneezing and congestion) and coughing took a back seat to the headache and chills that first night. I was disoriented and wobbly on my feet, as I tried to navigate bathroom trips etc. For the first time in my life, I felt physically vulnerable and weak for living alone. It was hard, being alone, to keep my mind staying on his love and care. I knew I wasn’t in any life-threatening danger, but emotionally it was so hard. Looking back, I think the not knowing the source of the problem, plus being at night only made things worse. We had just finished four days of Kids Camp, so I was physically tired already. As I kept re-assessing my situation inside my own head, I knew Jesus was with me. I could feel him stabilizing my emotions with his peace, and yet there was fear, subtly trying to sneak in. Finally, I said, “Lord, we will get through this. It may not be pretty, but that is ok.” I kept praying and waiting for daylight and the clock to progress so I could touch base with my children. I had texted them the night before that I didn’t feel well. But I didn’t want to bother them in the night (because I am a mom!)

Before I could reach out, my son showed up! He wanted to check on me, to see how I was doing. They thought I may have had heat exhaustion or something like that from being out in the sun with the kids. He cleaned up my messes, fed me some scrambled eggs, started laundry and bought me some Gatorade etc. He was our family hero that day! I am so grateful for him. Gradually the symptoms are dissipating, and I just have congestion and fatigue. Turns out my daughter and her family are waging the Covid war as well. At least we can compare symptoms and stages!

It hasn’t been “fun”, but I have a great group of friends and family who are praying and checking in on me. One way God brings stability to our lives, is through the help of others. Many offers of help and encouragement came. I am so grateful for each one. As I improve, I can see how the Lord has been the stability of my times. I know he has been intervening and answering prayer. Truly he is my rock during this unstable time.

You know, I think, the Lord is helping us get to standing just on him. Each of these extra planks (like food prices, gas prices or even the airline industry) have been wonderful to have in place, but they are not our stable place. That stable place is our Rock. He is immovable, unshakeable and does not waver. Peter was unstable as he walked on the water when he took his eyes off of the Lord and put them on the waves. Let us go to the rock, that is always higher than we are.

Father, like David we pray, Lead us to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2). We choose to climb higher above the concerns of this world and choose to trust in you no matter what. My illness shall pass, but others are facing more difficult things and we ask you to comfort them. Show them the path to the higher, safe place with you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “Meanwhile”

Meanwhile, the believers who had been scattered during the persecution after Stephen’s death traveled as far as Phoenicia, Cyprus, and Antioch of Syria. Acts 11:10

A few weeks ago, I was scheduled to lead our pre-service prayer. I always try to take the time to ask the Lord for any extra direction He may want to give or share with those present. He showed me that there were many who had a weary week. They were carrying burdens, some they had been carrying a long time. These were things they had been praying about for a long time. This phrase came to mind: let them know that as they serve me, I am serving them. Most of those who are faithful to the pre-service prayer time are those who choose to serve in some capacity each week.

As we lifted our burdens and concerns to the Lord, I could feel a shift for many. Such a word of faith. God is working on our behalf while we are busy with His assignments. He is moving on our behalf to answer prayer, make connections and help us through every difficult circumstances. I want to encourage you, even in the midst of your trial, that God is “meanwhile” working behind the scenes for each of us.

We see another example of “meanwhile” in Matthew 14. Immediately, after this, Jesus insisted that his disciple sent back into the boat and cross to the other side of the lake, while he sent the people home. Matthew 14:22. So the disciples followed Jesus instructions. They got in the boat and started to the other side. Jesus went off by himself to pray. But meanwhile, the disciples were in trouble far away from land, for a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves. About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. They did what he asked, he went about his business, but went to them when they needed him. It is the same with us. He is always with us, and shows up with everything we need, as we walk with him.

Take heart, my friends. He has not forgotten the prayers you have prayed for salvation, healing or breakthroughs–even if you have been praying for many years. Stay faithful. Serve Him. Love Him. Trust Him. Rest in Him. All the while, remembering that He is the God in whom we may trust our past, our present and our future.

Father, it’s humbling to think of you serving us. You served your disciples by washing their feet, feeding them, teaching them and you have not stopped. Help us to trust you with every long term prayer–even if nothing seems to change. You are so faithful, help us become as faithful servants to your kingdom as you are to us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Simple Instructions

Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words. Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. 2 Corinthians 13:11

I find myself really enjoying Paul’s simple instructions in this verse. It doesn’t take great revelation to understand them. But, it does take a process to work them out, and that is not a bad thing.

Be joyful. Or as other translations state: rejoice. No matter what we face, there is always something we can rejoice in. Some days, it may be obvious. A raise, a breakthrough in relationships, a good diagnosis are all things that bring joy to our souls. Choosing to rejoice or be joyful when things are not going so well is a step toward maturity. Being able to be grateful we have a Savior to help us through those difficult life issues can lessen anxiety and fear. It takes a step of faith to choose to rejoice, but try it. It is often the beginning of breakthroughs. If you struggle with this, try singing out loud a simple worship song. Or simply begin by thanking the Lord for your salvation. It will take your mind off your difficulty and remind you, you are not alone. Try laughing.

Grow in maturity. The Amplified Translation states it this way: Be made complete [be what you should be]. While the NIV says: Strive for full restoration. We must allow God and the Holy Spirit to have its perfect work in every area of our lives. This means giving Him freedom to convict and convince us of any sin, wrong attitudes or falling short of His plan for us. This is always done for our benefit and blessing.

Encourage each other. It is so easy to get focused on ourselves. It takes maturity to see where we can be a blessing to others and discover how to encourage them. When we help others, we find ourselves helped.

Live in harmony and peace. We don’t always have to be right, or have the last word. The word ‘harmony’ implies we will be playing distinct notes–but as we follow the Lord, it should sound good to His ears. Let’s let our Heavenly Father be about His business parenting His children. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Romans 12:18 NIV is always a great verse to live by.

Then comes the great promise. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. I know He is always with us, but cultivating His Presence is amazing. We can draw on Him for His love and His peace. No matter the situation, the Prince of Peace has His peace to bestow upon each of us, and I so appreciate that.

So my friends, I encourage us all to live simply and follow Him. Do not make things so complicated in your walk with Him. These were Paul’s last words to the Corinthian church, and they are good words for us as well.

Father, I ask you to help us walk your simple life. Help us to be joyful today, letting the rivers of life flow from our hearts unto others. We choose to rejoice in your goodness. Father, I thank you that your are helping us grow up into the men and women you want us to be. We choose to live in harmony and peace, as much that lies within us. Show us where we can be an encouragement to others. Use us. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and One Voice

He is a voice shouting in the wilderness. Mark 1:3

This week I happen to come across two different men, who used their voice for influence, one for evil the other for good. We find the first story in 2 Samuel 13. Amnon was one of David’s sons. He had a dear friend, who was also his cousin named Jonadab. Jonadab noticed that his friend, Ammon was quite upset. Enter the story:

Now David’s son Absalom had a beautiful sister named Tamar. And Amnon, her half brother, fell desperately in love with her. Amnon became so obsessed with Tamar that he became ill. she was a virgin, and Amnon thought he could never have her. So here we have the story’s setting. Amnon was 22 and Tamar about 15 when this took place. He was so obsessed over Tamar and her beauty that he became ill. Amnon was correct in thinking he couldn’t have her, because she was too near a relative according to Jewish law for them to marry. (He was her half brother.)

What happens next shows the power of one voice. But Amnon had a very crafty friend–his cousin Jonadab. He was the son of David’s brother Shimea. One day Jonadab said to Amnon, “What’s the trouble? why should the son of a king look so dejected morning after morning?” So Amnon told him, “I am in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister. Instead of Jonadab helping his friend righteously through the problem, using good counsel, he helps set in place an elaborate plot so Tamar and Amnon could be alone. “Well,” Jonadab said, “I’ll tell you what to do. Go back to bed and pretend you are ill. When your father comes to see you, ask him to let Tamar come and prepare some food for you. Tell him you’ll feel better if she prepares it as you watch and feeds you with her own hands.” So Amnon lay down and pretended to be sick. And when the king came to see him, Amnon asked him, “Please let my sister come and cook my favorite dish as I watch. Then I can eat it from her own hands.” So David agreed and sent Tamar to Amnon’s house to prepare some food for him.

At this point, perhaps David, as the dad could have used a little discernment, and asked a few questions himself, but he didn’t. When Tamar arrived at Amnon’s house she fixed the food. But when she set the serving tray before him, he refused to eat. Everyone get out of here Amnon told his servants. So they all left. Then he said to Tamar, “now bring the food into my bedroom and feed it to me here. So Tamar took his favorite dish to him. but as she was feeding him, he grabbed her and demanded, “Come to bed with me, my darling sister’. “No, my brother, she cried. “Don’t be foolish! Don’t do this to me! Such wicked things aren’t done in Israel. Where could I go in my shame? And you would be called on the greatest fools in Israel. Please, just speak to the king about it, and he will let you marry me” . But Amnon wouldn’t listen to her, and since he was stronger that she was, he raped her. Then suddenly Amnon’s love turned to hate, and he hated her even more than he loved her. “Get out of here!” he snarled at her. He disgraced her even more, and brought division into the family over this act. All because his lust, fueled by his friends “advice” caused him to act so disgracefully.

When people we are around are in difficult emotional places, many times our one voice can either influence them to do good, or influence them to give in to their fleshly ways. As I read this story, I often wonder if Jonadab had some secret desires of his own, that he worked out through Amnon, another place where we must be careful. Friends have used their voice to precipitate and encourage others to pre-mature divorce, have affairs and other sinful acts, maybe even things they don’t have the courage to do themselves, but encourage others to do it at their expense. Not a good thing.

We find another story of the use of one man’s voice in Acts 5. Vs. 12, The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade. But no one else dared to join them, even though all the people had high regard for them. Yet more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord–crowds of both men and women.

The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. (Verse 17) To condense the story, an angel came and let them out, and they went back to the public square and began preaching again. When the Temple guards went to get them out, they were gone! Someone finally came and told them that they were preaching and teaching again.

The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Peter and the apostles then preached to the council officials. When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. But, one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel; who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for awhile. Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! (vs 33-35) Here is the voice of reason, in the midst of the furious anger of the rest of the council members. He then rehearses the stories of two other men with their followers, whose movements died out after their leaders died. He took the time to look at a bigger picture than what was right before them. (Acts 5:36-38) When we use our voice, we need to take the time to look at the whole picture.

The voice of reason went on to declare “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning an doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God. The others accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Acts 5:38-40 NLT

When we are given the opportunity to counsel, encourage or give advice make sure it is scripturally sound. Make sure it leads them toward God’s ways and God’s thoughts. Point them to hope and faith. Jonadab, as a “friend” caused much havoc for David’s family; when he could have helped Amnon think differently. Amnon was ultimately responsible for his own actions, but would he have had the courage to plot such a plan without the help of Jonadab? I think not. Gamaliel changed the minds of his other council members by taking time to think. Let us be the voice of reason for each other. Like Gamaliel, take the time to think before you speak. Look at the bigger picture and help your friend make right choices.

Father, I thank you for helping us use the voices you gave us to speak words of hope, direction and encouragement. Let us not be like Jonadab who encouraged Amnon to commit a grievous sin, but like Gamaliel who saved lives. We ask for Your continued wisdom, grace and mercy as we search for Your big picture, in the hearts and lives of our family and friends. Our words do count, let us use them for good. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Encouraging Words

Be on guard. Stand firm in the faith. Be courageous. Be strong. And do everything with love. 1 Corinthians 16:13-14 (NLT)

When I came across this verse this week, I thought, “wow, what a nutshell of instruction we should all follow”. There are such universal thoughts bound up into these two scriptures, I just wanted to share them. They urge and provoke me to good works, how about you?

Be on guard. Are you being watchful? Are you honing the gift of discernment? We should be. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us why we need to be on guard. Your enemy, the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow. (NIRV) I don’t know about you, but I like to think I would never be that “someone”. But, in truth, each of us could find ourselves being chewed up or on by him. People are caught off guard and hoodwinked by the scam artists that steal their money and identity all the time. These are usually smart people who fall for a subtle, sneaky line that hooks them in, and they find themselves having to deal with the consequences. So, my friends, we must all be on guard, watching for any pitfalls or traps.

Stand firm in the faith. Put on the whole armor of God, including having your feet preparation of that gospel of peace. It is important to know truth, much even more important to know the God of all truth. Jesus declares, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. I think people want to know the way to life, but often forget that He has the Truth as well. We can’t stand firm when we are standing on lies. So many people are adjusting their truth so it “feels right”, we must conform to His truth.

Be courageous. We must “courage up” to live this Christian life. Our courage comes from the Lord, because we know He is with us, and we are not alone. It does not mean that fear won’t be present, it means that we will be able to live our life fully even in spite of that fear. Divorce rates up? Does that mean you won’t get married? No, it means you will follow God’s plan for a successful marriage. Children going awry? Does it mean you will not have children? No, it means you will cover yourself in God’s grace, mercy and raise those kids the best you can. Courage means you fight on your knees till you are strong enough to stand. Courage means you seek His will and His ways through the dark valleys of grief and heartache. Courage means you persevere till He comes.

Be strong. Be strong even when you feel weak. Ah, so often lately I have felt weak and powerless. Out of control and needy. After I pitch my fits, I turn to Him who has all strength and lean on Him. He makes the way I need. He gives power to the faint. Spending time with Him, in quietness and peace, gives me the strength and courage to accomplish those things I need to do, try it.

Ah, the last bullet point. And do everything with love. How important and useful this last verse is. I have found when I don’t know what to do, I rely on I Corinthians 13: 8, love never fails. So, I ask myself what is the most loving thing I can do right now, in this present situation. It is often not the easiest thing to do, because it is based on God’s idea of loving in a situation, not mine! But I have always found it to work. We can do everything with love, because we have His love, His care and His grace working in us. We love Him because He first loved us, so we can love those around us, because we are first loved as well.

Father, I thank you for using this scripture to provoke us to good works. That we can be on our guard and stand firm in our faith. I thank you for helping us be courageous in every area that we might want to retreat from. We choose to be strong in those areas we feel weak in and by your grace, we will do everything with love. I thank you for helping us in each of these areas. You are our mighty Savior, who we need. Thank you for being trustworthy. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Mourning

Rejoice with those that rejoice, mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12:15 NIV

Death has rocked many this week. A young man killed by another DUI driver, a young husband passing too soon, an older aunt passing away and then the tragedy at Uvalde, Texas. So many people are mourning, including myself. It is sooo hard.

After hearing the news of my friend’s husband’s passing, my heart just wanted God to do a reset. I am sure the drunk driver who hit a 23-year-old medical student felt the same way. If only I hadn’t gotten behind the wheel drunk. What about the families in Uvalde? Those that knew that young man who made such a horrible decision that affected so many families, are stunned and mourning. I am sure they are wondering what they could have done to prevent such devastation. Death changes things, not just for a day, but for eternity. It brings permanent changes to those who are directly influenced by it.

I am soo very grateful for God’s Word. The morning after I heard about my friend’s husband, my Bible reading brought me to John 14. Let not your heart be troubled. My first response was Lord, how can it not be? How can our heart not be troubled when this young family’s world has been shattered? As I kept reading, the next phrase jumped out at me. Trust in God. Oh, Father, that is so hard, but You make it easier when, even through my tears, I think about You. Your love, Your care and Your understanding of how hard things can be for us here, but You still are a God of help in the time of trouble.

I chose to calm my heart and my tears. I chose to begin to pray, (again) for the families; releasing my faith that He is a trustworthy God who knows how to help this fresh widow and the other grieving families through this dark shadow of death. Although it still hurts, hope sprang forth and faith arose that He will help them through this wilderness and into His green pastures. He will bring His goodness into the situation, because that is what our God does as we let Him. He reminded me of how He brought me through my own shadow of death when my husband died.

Our hearts are broken for the families of Uvalde. It is mind-boggling to wonder how this young man thought it would ease his pain to cause so much more. But now, we weep for them, but we must also pray for them, releasing our faith that God will send His people with words of hope, comfort and action. “Father, please use this tragedy for Your glory. You didn’t cause it, but You use it for good.”

The scripture in Romans 12:15 instructs us to mourn with those that mourn, not just mourn for them. This implies a journey, and every journey takes time. There are bumps, obstacles and potholes along that journey. But mourning with someone means we stay with them, no matter what the terrain. It is a choice we make to walk alongside someone, but they don’t have a choice. It is their cross to bear. We can help make it easier with our presence.

Mourning isn’t just for deaths. I found myself mourning for the Body of Christ at large because of the moral failures of different church leaders and church scandals. When the church should be coming, the pure and spotless bride, we look more like a be-draggled homeless person. It hurts my soul, even when I recognize my own short-comings, which do not reflect His image.

The difficult topics that are dividing the church world right now also cause a mourning to my heart. How can Christians have such divergent views on abortion, LGBT, gun control etc is hard to comprehend? But, this is another area where I must not let my heart get troubled, but trust Him and His parenting skills for His children. Often difficult! It’s like you want to parent another person’s child! Not your job. It is our job to pray for the church. Pray and trust Him for His purification and working. It is our job to be faithful to our light and the truth He has revealed to us. Mourning should lead us to prayer, and prayer should lead us to insight and wisdom on what action we need to take. That is comforting.

Father, I pray for all those I know that this week their world has changed due to death. It is so hard to comprehend, but You do. You see everyone, and have a plan to help them through all these changes. Show us what we should and can do to bring comfort to their world. I pray for all those who are mourning, that Your Comforter will arise wit healing in his wings. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and Criticism

A woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. Mark 14:5, (NLT)

We don’t know all the reasons Mary of Bethany (as John 12:3) tells us; interrupts Jesus and his meal at the home of Simon the leper, to pour this special perfume over Jesus’ head. I wonder if she even considered what would be the reaction to her act of love? The scripture says some of those at the table were indignant. Why waste such expensive perfume? they asked. It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly. Mark 14: 4-5. (NLT)

Poor Mary. She did an act of love, which really hurt no one, but was criticized and condemned. Have you ever found yourself on that side? Reaping criticism and condemnation as you have tried to serve the Lord? It happens to all of us. When we try to do good, and people misunderstand it can even cause us to back off from doing the next God prompt. We don’t know how Mary felt, but I am sure it took away from some of the blessing she was trying to give to Jesus.

Or maybe you have been the critic. Watching from the outside someone else generous gift, and either being envious because they thought of it, or maybe wishing you had that special perfume! The perfume was Mary’s. It was hers to use as she saw fit. Do you notice how easy it often is for us to know better how to use someone else’s time, treasure or talent? If we had the perfume, of course we would have used it in a wiser way! But Mary’s heart was towards Jesus, and it was simply an act of love. I don’t know if she knew how prophetic was until Jesus responded to her!

Why must we be so critical of others? What is it that rises out of our old man and makes us feel we need to pass judgement and censure others? Maybe we aren’t as vocal as those fellows, but I know, in myself, it can happen quickly in my mind and heart. We don’t see Mary defending herself, but Jesus rises to the occasion. He knew her motives and purpose, probably even better than she did herself!

But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could and has anointed me body for burial ahead of time”. Mark 14:7 It is so comforting to know that Jesus understands our motives and will rise to our defense also..

We find James speaking very clearly on this matter. Don’t speak evil against each other, dear brothers and sisters. If you criticize and judge each other, then you are criticizing and judging God’s law. But your job is to obey the law, not to judge whether it applies to you.God alone, who gave the law, is the Judge. He alone has the power to save or to destroy. So what right do you have to judge your neighbor? James 4: 11-12 (NLT) I know this is true. I need to focus on obeying the Lord and what He asks me to do. When I feel secure in God’s love and HIs ways, I do not seem to care or worry about (negatively) what others are doing or not doing. They are His kids. He knows how to discipline them. Not my job. My job is to pray for them, help them and bless them.

Brothers and sisters, let’s guard our hearts against criticism. It is divisive and not helpful. James also tells us, If you are wise and understand God’s ways, prove it by living an honorable life, doing good works with the humility that comes from wisdom. But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your heart, don’t cover up the truth with boasting and lying. James 3:13-14. NLT This should keep us too busy to be critical!

Father, I thank you for alerting us by your Holy Spirit to any areas of criticism we may walk in. Help us walk in love, grace and mercy. We renounce jealousy and selfish ambition and seek to walk humbly with you. Help us to celebrate one another’s victories, In Jesus’s Name. amen.

Faith and “Old Age”

And now in my old age, don’t set me aside, don’t abandon me when my strength is failing. Psalm 71:9 NLT

As most senior adults, I don’t think of myself as “old”. For you younger ones, that probably comes as a surprise. Most of us think of ourselves as a bit vintage–getting better with age! But even though the number goes up, our view of ourselves stays mostly the same. Until–one day we realize we can’t do quite what we used to do. Until–we discover aches where there did not used to be aches. Until–we catch a glimpse of ourselves in a mirror and notice sags, bags along with crinkles and wrinkles. Then the passing of time seems to catch up and we realize that there is no going back to our former selves.

Then the enemy of our souls seeks to establish a foothold. His lies about inadequacy, weakness and invisibility try to invade our souls. But, these are lies. Our wonderful God sees us at every age. He understands us, even when we don’t understand ourselves. The great news is that He desires to use us at every stage of our life. Even though our “outwardly we are wearing out, inwardly we are renewed day by day. Our suffering is light and temporary and is producing for us an eternal glory that is greater than anything we can imagine.” 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. There is, if we let it, a continued renewing of our inward man by the work of the Holy Spirit. I have experienced it myself! I am much more patient on so many levels than I used to be. I have a greater trust in God’s promises–especially that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28) I can see growth in trusting God’s work in others–it isn’t my job, but His! But there is still room to grow, for sure. But I would not want to relive my younger life!

The Bible is full of scriptures to encourage us in our old age.

He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. Ruth 4:15

I will still be carrying you when you are old. Your hair will turn gray, and I will still carry you. I made you and I will carry you to safety. Isaiah 46:4

Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “the Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him. Psalm 92:12

As with anything, it depends on our perspective. No matter our age, if we succumb to the lies, we will fall into depression, complaining and truly becoming grumpy old people even when we are young! It is my heart to be vital and green, producing fruit as I become even more senior. Pastor Reshaun Hurley spoke such an encouraging word on Mother’s Day. That word was Legacy. Each of us leaves one, the question is: what kind?

It breaks my heart to find “older” saints drop out of the active Christian life they used to encourage. No matter how our outward man may change, we can still pray, encourage and seek Him. I want to encourage us all, when we find a troublesome spot in our culture, do not complain, but pray. Ask God for His solutions to be revealed to those who can make changes. Keep an attitude of gratitude, for what you can do, not focusing on on what you can’t. Walk closely with Jesus, listening to Him and obeying Him. That is the best legacy we can leave for our families, friends and His kingdom. Do not grow weary in well doing. Find ways to help and encourage those around you. Forgive yourself when past regrets arise in your thoughts. We have today as a gift, let’s use it. Do not let “old age” become a curse, God has seen fit to keep you here for a purpose! Find it, live it and accomplish it!

Father, I thank you for Your promise that You will not set us aside in our old age, but You will hold us steady as we choose to keep walking in Your ways. I thank You, that even if our natural eyes and ears grow dim, we can still see and hear with Your Spirit. Teach us, even in our old age, to continue numbering our days. We silence the lies that Satan roars in their ears that they are useless or not as important to You. Help those, in their youth, to honor, respect and learn from older saints, so it will be well with them. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “God Is”

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:2 (ESV)

This Psalm has encouraged so many of God’s people through the ages. It is said that Martin Luther, when in greatest distress, was want to call for this psalm, saying, “Let us sing the forty-sixth psalm in concert; and then let the devil do his worst.” (John Trapp Commentary) One of his famous hymns, “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” was based on this Psalm. It is said that Martin Luther and his family chose to remain in Wittenburg, Germany during the time of the bubonic plague, to minister to the sick and dying. His wife was pregnant at the time, but they put their trust in the Lord and touched and helped many in the Name of the Lord. We can see that Luther found God to be his refuge and strength, but the question that came to my mind is: who is God to me, in my present? Who is God to you, in yours?

If I know God is (present tense!) my refuge, then I don’t have to fear any storm that rages. A refuge is a shelter or protection in times of danger and distress. Do I take advantage of this refuge during my times of distress? Most times yes, if not I eventually end up there! Keep me safe, my God, for in you I take refuge. Psalm 16:1 NIV

As I ponder on who God is to me I realized that He is my rock–immovable, steady and the bedrock under my feet. Be my rock of refuge, to which I can always go; give the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress. Psalm 71:2 NIV

He is my fortress–another name for refuge–He is my protection, a safe place, a hiding place where I can go to share my fears and my troubles. The Lord is my rock, my fortress, and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18: 2 NIV

He, of course, is my Savior. My Savior who has rescued me from myself–including my past sins, my present battles and struggles, confusion, and insecurities. Therefore, he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Hebrews 7:25 NIV

He is my Strength. When I am weak, As I ask Him to, He is there to strengthen me in every weak place. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Isaiah 40:29 NIV I can do all things through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13 NLT

He is my Father. And I shall be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty. 2 Corinthians 6:18 (ESV) See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God, and so we are. the reason why the world does know us is that it did not know him 1 John 3:1 ESV

He is my Comforter. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV)

If you find yourself struggling today with focus, confidence or trust in Him, take time to refresh yourself in and through His Word. Remind yourself who He is to you, and if you discover you don’t really comprehend Him in any of these ways (Rock, Strength, Father, Savior etc.) ask Him to reveal Himself to you in those areas. He longs to help us understand all of Him.

He is my Lord. This one, as are all the areas, a work in progress. Fortunately, He helps me learn about it most everyday! ESV And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. Luke 9:23 ESV So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him. “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will se you free. John 8:31-32 ESV

There are so many other aspects of Him to discover and learn about. These are a just a few I drew from Psalm 46. I pray you grow in Him and with Him today.

Father, I thank You for loving us enough to teach us about Your and Your different aspects that You freely make known to us. I ask that You help us to grow in these and every area of who You are. Thank You, for being our Savior and helping us learn about Your Lordship. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Faith and “Dealing with Disappointment”

Being confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will carry it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 (NIV)

Tomorrow I am supposed to jump in my car and drive five plus hours to meet up with two old friends with their friends for a prayer retreat. When I say old friends, these two special ladies knew me before I got married! In fact, they were at our wedding. 48 years ago! What an out of the blue, off the radar invitation. But, I have been fighting a virus this week. The coughing, congested feel like you’ve been drained of every energy type of virus. So here I sit, resting, praying and dealing with the possible disappointment that I won’t have the energy or health to make the trip.

I thought about the phrase “dealing with disappointment”. I pictured someone taking the different “cards” of my situation and spreading them out on a table. First is my emotions card. What is the source of my disappointment? First, there are no do-overs. This is a onetime shot. One friend, Kay, lives in Arizona, the other, Malana, in Alaska! Apparently, they have been doing this prayer retreat for many years. The friend, Laurel who is hosting this event, said yes to my coming and said, “this may well be the last time you see each other”. Kay’s health isn’t well. As I am in this valley of indecision, I realize I was looking forward to being with people that “knew me when, ” and I knew when. Old stories surfaced in my memories, fun, encouraging, and memorable answers to prayer. They made me smile.

My physical health card–am I going to be up to it to go? At my age, the reality is I take longer to recover from illness than it used to. It isn’t a card that I used to give much value to–but not I have to. Will this card trump every other card in the hand? We will have to see.

Another card that surfaced was the desire to just spend time with the Lord in a new place with new people. Hearing their hearts and learning from them. Originally, there were going to be six of us. These are women who know their God and walk with Him. Their lives have not been easy. In fact, Laurel’s husband has been in a coma for over a year, and is now in hospice care. She may not get to even attend the event (and I think I might be disappointed!) So many life lessons to be gleaned from these new and old friends. Both Kay and Malana have endured hard places, but they still choose to walk with Him. Both their spouses are still here, and I am sure my walk through the valley of death has helped them prepare, in case they find themselves alone. There is something special to be with those with whom you have history, and the Lord knows that.

The disappointing other card. My friends want me to come. It will be disappointing if I can’t make it, it is part of the package of living life. I know they will understand. But it will make us all sad. It will have to be played if I don’t feel better. Disappointing others is so hard for me. But I know the Lord will comfort their hearts, even as He will comfort mine.

Another major card in dealing with disappointment is perspective and attitude. I know that ties into the emotion card, but the choice is where am I going to put it? Do I have any other unresolved disappointments that this situation can be added to? Or am I able to look at my life, accept that these things happen and move on? Unresolved disappointment can turn into bitterness and that defiles many, as the scripture says. Not good for you or for others. Would this trip add wonderful memories, insights, and blessings to my life? Yes! But, if I can’t make it, will it really harm me in the long run? Probably not. After all, I surrendered my life to the Lord a long time ago. His ways are higher than my ways. Other disappointments (like my husband’s heart attack/stroke) were not so easy to discard. I chose not to put it in the bitterness pile for myself, my family and my Lord. I admit, some days it tried to sneak back to that pile! But friends, I encourage you to take the time to process every disappointment. For your spiritual, emotional and physical sake, it is worth it.

My perspective card is just that, my perspective. If I can’t go, I will choose not to mope and be sad. I am so grateful they want me to come. Just taking the time to reflect on our memories is such a blessing. Are there other cards in the disappointment hand? At times, yes. Disappointment often is a revealer. It reveals where our hope has been placed. I find out how mature I am, or not! Do I really have self control, or is it an area I need to keep growing? Have I learned to accept God’s yes’s as well as His no’s?

We all encounter disappointments. It’s just a reality we must accept. I am so glad the Holy Spirit helps us walk through every one if we let Him. In Luke 24, Jesus appeared to His disciples after they had walked through his death. He loved them, as He loves us, and wanted to reassure it was really Him that was raised from the dead. Disappointments come, but so does Jesus. Let us look to Him, knowing He walks with us through any dark valley we encounter. Whether or not I make it to the Prayer Retreat, I will be glad and rejoice with my God, knowing He understands.

Father, I ask You to help us learn to deal with our disappointments. Help us not to veer to the left or to the right; but to stay on course with You. Let me bring You into my disappointment, not blame You for it. In Jesus’ Name, amen.